Sensitive skin is common. You aren’t alone and like you, many people struggle in managing it. Some people find that their skin can become irritated or inflamed when it comes in contact with certain products, substances, or environmental factors such as sun or extreme heat or cold. Sensitive skin may also develop as a result of other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or allergies. Your triggers may be very specific or seemingly infinite.
Typical symptoms of sensitive skin include stinging, burning, itching, welting, dryness, and redness. Extremely sensitive individuals may have reactions with flaking, pimples, or even blisters.
Regardless of the cause, it helps to determine what your triggers (or potential triggers) are and avoid them. Here are six tips to help get you started.
The 6 Steps:
1. Avoid cleansers or products that contain acids, alcohol or retinoids
Avoid: Most acne and antiaging products will fall into this category
Salicylic Acid, Glycolic Acid, Benzyl Peroxide, Tretinoin, some acne prescriptions
Substitute: Calming, soothing ingredients
Allantonin, Aloe, Azulene, Borage Seed Oil, Chamomile, Calendula, Colloidal Oat, Panthanol (pro vitamin B5), Cucumber, Lecithin, Shea Butter.
2. Do not use soaps and detergents that contain deodorant, fragrances, or dyes
Avoid: Almost everything (sorry)
Substitute: “Free and Clear”, baby, sensitive skin soaps and detergents
3. Gently wash the skin with a soft cloth;
Avoid: Abrasive materials, loofas and sugar scrubs, products with peach pits and nut shells
Substitute: Baby cotton washcloths are an excellent choice.
4. Wear soft, natural fabrics and loose fitting clothes
Avoid: Wool, nylon, rayon
Substitute: Cotton and silk
5. Be cautious of the sun
Avoid: Extended exposure to the sun
Substitute: Sun protective clothing, hats and sunscreen that contains zinc oxide year round
6. Use warm water for showers with warm water
Avoid hot water which can dry out the skin
Before anyone with sensitive skin uses a product for the first time, it should be tested behind the ear or on the wrist. I’m partial to the inner arm near your elbow. You can keep an eye on it, and it comes in to contact with less of the world than your wrist. If you don’t have a response after using the product in a regular fashion after a few days, it should be safe to use the product.
People who suffer from frequent rashes or reactions may consult with a dermatologist to determine whether they are having an allergic reaction to a specific product or ingredient. The dermatologist will review your symptoms and may refer you to an allergist to perform a patch test. Allergists perform patch testing by applying the ingredient to the skin and looking for a rash to develop within one to two days. If a specific reaction is identified, then that substance can be avoided in the future.
By avoiding products that may irritate the skin and following a gentle cleansing routine, most sensitive skin problems can be alleviated.